Acid Reflux More Common than Ever
Americans are dealing with more health problems now than they ever had in the past. This is based on statistical data that finds that chronic diseases are pretty much on the rise across the board. One of the biggest causes of this startling rise in health problems is obesity, which directly affects more than one-third of the US adult population, with another third being overweight and at risk.
While improved medical data and diagnostic materials are making it easier to detect medical conditions, which also accounts for the increase in known medical concerns, many point to basic lifestyle changes in the ways most adults live day to day. The frequent consumption of fatty and in general unhealthy foods, as well as decreased activity as people adapt to more desk jobs leads to a greater risk for health problems.
Increased Rates of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux disease is not left out here. In the past decade, the prevalence of people reporting they experience heartburn or acid reflux at least one time per week has increased by 50%. What is more startling, is that the increase in acid reflux disease is not unique to Americans. Worldwide, more and more people are developing problems with chronic heartburn.
Researchers in Norway wanted to see just how drastic an increase there is in acid reflux issues, and they looked at more than 30,000 people for the course of 11 years. At the start of their study, only a little over 11% had acid reflux symptoms. By the end of the study, that number increased 47%. At the conclusion of their study in 2011, almost 20% of participants were experiencing heartburn or acid reflux at least once a week. Researchers predicted that increased rates of obesity was the leading reason behind the rise in heartburn and reflux.
When heartburn happens more than once a week, it is often a result of a chronic medical condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This disease happens as a result of physical damage to the lower esophageal sphincter, which will cause stomach acid to wash out of the stomach and into the esophagus, causing the burning sensation. While this may happen occasionally for someone who doesn’t struggle with GERD, the frequency of it happening more than once a week is a sure sign that there is something more severe going on.
It is not too surprising that the prevalence of acid reflux disease is increasing alongside other chronic illnesses, especially alongside those that are related to obesity. Being overweight puts added pressure on the stomach, and thereby puts added pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. Over time, this can lead to damage, and as a result, acid reflux.
There are successful treatments available for those who struggle with GERD. Acid reflux surgery is the most successful method of treatment. Understanding the risk factors for chronic reflux is important if you want to overcome the disease, as losing weight and making changes to your diet can help alleviate heartburn in some situations. For more help with overcoming acid reflux disease, contact your acid reflux doctor.